THE ending of a ban on the opening of pubs on Good Friday was met with much fanfare and debate when announced but, yesterday in Cork city, it was just like any other Friday of the year, according to publicans.
Much was expected for pub trade on the day after the Dáil passed an amendment to the Intoxicating Liquor Act allowing pubs to open on Good Friday for the first time since 1927.
However, Philip Gillivan, proprietor of the Shelbourne Bar and Cork Business Association President, said trade was brisk but the pub wasn't busier than normal.
“It was like a normal Friday, there was nothing different, really. I think people have got past the novelty factor. It was busy anyway because it is payday but they didn't come in just because it was Good Friday,” he said.
“A lot of our customers are not from Ireland and they don't understand the whole thing.
“The excitement phase is over and people have just moved on,” he added.
Gardaí this morning confirmed that they were no busier than normal last night, despite the expected increase in crowds in Cork.
Most bars opened their doors yesterday afternoon with just a handful of exceptions. Bars in the county town of Newmarket opted to remain closed, while Callanan's bar on George's Quay also chose to keep its doors shut.
The Venue Bar in Ballintemple opened at 3pm and publican Con Dennehy said there was a slight novelty factor in the pub but it didn't attract much extra trade.
“It was a bit busier than a normal Friday with a few people extra coming in. I think people want to look back in 10 years time and say 'I was in a pub on the first Good Friday they were open'.
“Other than that it was a normal Friday,” he added.
It was a special Good Friday for one woman, though.
98-year-old Maura Hallinan pulled the first pint in her grandson's new bar on Douglas Street.
Nana's, named for Maura, opened its doors yesterday, with owner Stephen Hackett drafting in his experienced grandmother to pull the first pint. She ran the hugely successful KLM bar on the Low Road in Cork for decades, meaning that it wasn't a stretch for her.
Despite stepping up when Stephen asked, 'Nana' had mixed feelings about the law change, suggesting that the closure 'isn't much to ask' for busy pub owners.
Publicans had long sought to be allowed to open on the Christian holiday. The only exception to the ruling in over 90 years came after a 2010 court ruling allowed pubs in Limerick only to open on Good Friday due to a rugby match between Leinster and Munster being scheduled on the day at Thomond Park.
The change in legislation leaves Christmas Day as the only day of the year when pubs can't open.